Baseball Edged By Wright State, 7-6, In Topsy-Turvy Horizon League Tourney Game

Nathan Orf was 5-for-5 at the dish against Wright State pitching.
Nathan Orf was 5-for-5 at the dish against Wright State pitching.

May 22, 2009

Box Score

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LORAIN, Ohio- The UIC baseball team raced out to an early five-run advantage, but the Flames saw their lead vanquish during Wright State's five-run seventh inning and eventually fell to the Raiders, 7-6, in a 2009 Horizon League Baseball Championship contest at The Pipe Yard on Friday night.

UIC (27-22) will take on Milwaukee in an elimination game on Saturday, May 23 at 10 a.m. Central. The winner will play Wright State (32-27) in a championship round contest at 2 p.m. Central.

The Flames scored six times in the first three innings, but their bats cooled thereafter as UIC did not light the scoreboard in the final six frames.

Freshman catcher Nathan Orf was UIC's constant on offense, going 5-for-5 to record his first career five-hit game and chalk up three-plus hits in a game for the fourth time in his last five starts.

Starter Adam Worthington was dealing, having allowed just one unearned run through the first six, until Wright State had its first six batters of the seventh reach to eventually score five times and chase the Horizon League Pitcher of the Year.

Closer Derrick Miramontes suffered his first loss of the season after giving up the winning run in the top of the eighth.

The Raiders scored in unearned fashion during the opening inning. Aaron Fields doubled to right and advanced to third on a passed ball. Jeff Mercer drove Fields home on a sac fly to center.

But the Flames responded in the bottom half of the inning by sending eight men to the plate and scoring three times.

Brett Schaefer's hard-struck infield single to shortstop R.J. Gundolff with runners at the corners evened the contest. After starter Michael Woytek's first pitch to Jason Ganek plunked the UIC third baseman to load the bases, Andy Leonard flied out deep to right field to plate the go-ahead run and Tony Altavilla followed with a single through the right side of the infield that completed Schaefer's journey around the bases.

UIC loaded the bases again in the second, and Ganek came through by poking a two-out, two-run single to short right to extend the Flames' advantage to four.

The Flames inflicted some more two out damage in the third. With Johnny Rosinski on second after a one-out double, Harwell came to the plate two batters later and blooped a ball to short center field. The ducksnort dropped between Gundolff and centerfielder Ryan Ashe, allowing Rosinski to cruise home safely.

Wright State threatened by putting two on with one out in the fifth for Fields, who crushed a deep drive that seemed destined to drop in the left centerfield gap. But Steve McGuiggan made an unbelievable diving catch, rose up and caught Garrett Gray trying to advance to third on an 8-4-5 double play.

Worthington allowed just four hits through six, but the senior right-hander encountered trouble in the seventh as the strike zone appeared to shrink in a hurry. Two consecutive singles and a walk loaded the bases to begin the inning, and Gray singled to right to bring in a run and leave the bags juiced. Gundolff singled to left to bring in another run, and Fields doubled down the right field line to bring in two and close the gap to a single run.

That caused head coach Mike Dee to summon his closer Miramontes, who induced a groundout off the bat of big bopper Jeff Mercer that brought in the tying run from third. Miramontes then elicited a double-play grounder off the bat of Quentin Cate to end the Raiders' five-run, five-hit frame.

Wright State skipper Rob Cooper mirrored Dee's action in the bottom of the seventh, calling on his closer, league reliever of the year Michael Schum, in a battle between two of the conference's top game-enders.

Ashe led off the eighth against Miramontes with a double to the left corner, and moments later Gray drove him home with the go-ahead run on a single to left.

Dee was ejected by home plate umpire Jason Stidham as Miramontes warmed up for the ninth.

Orf led off the ninth with his fifth knock of the night, leaving the game for pinch runner Brad Riegler after he hobbled to first. Ty Rubio moved Riegler into scoring position with the tying run, but Schum escaped by getting Schaefer and Ganek to ground out.

Orf, the rookie from Wentzville, Mo., is hitting .708 (17-for-24) in his last five games.

Flames fans can follow the championship in a variety of ways. Saturday's games and a possible Sunday game will be video streamed on the Horizon League Network (free registration required). Gametracker will be available for every game, and fans can receive in-game tweet updates from The Pipe Yard press box on Twitter from @uicflamesdotcom.

Flames fans can listen to exclusive podcasts, featuring interviews with closer Derrick Miramontes and head coach Mike Dee, by clicking here to download the UIC Athletics Widget. The podcasts are also available on iTunes.